Bills to make way for emergency vehicles die in Connecticut

| 5/22/2007

An effort has died in the Connecticut General Assembly that sought to mandate for all drivers a practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades.

The measure, dubbed the “Move Over” bill, was designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

Sponsored by Rep. Dick Belden, R-Shelton, the bill – HB5086 – would have required drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles by the road with their lights flashing.

Drivers would have been required to merge into a lane further away from an emergency vehicle. If it wasn’t possible to move over one lane, drivers would have been required to reduce speed below the posted limit before passing the emergency vehicle.

“This is a pretty common-sense safety measure,” Belden said in a written statement before the bill’s demise. “You should give these vehicles a wide berth, for your own safety, as well as for the safety of the operator of the emergency vehicle and anyone they may be assisting.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.

Another bill in Connecticut also died that was intended to clear the path for oncoming emergency personnel vehicles.

Sponsored by Rep. John Mazurek, D-Wolcott, the bill – HB5092 – would have required drivers to yield the right-of-way when an ambulance or police vehicle was approaching with lights and sirens activated.

The bills remained in the Joint Committee on Transportation at the deadline to advance, effectively killing them for the year.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor